This post was contributed by Joe Linford, who writes for the social shopping site Broadband Genie.
Brands give a lot of attention to social media, and really, why shouldn’t they? Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest have enabled brands to connect with their target audience and increase customer engagement. Businesses can tap into the vast user base of these platforms to provide information about products, services, new product launches, and customer service easily. The best part is that their customers love it! If your customers are sharing what you share, re-tweeting your tweets, and re-pinning your pins, your social media marketing strategy is a success, but the success of any social media marketing campaign isn’t determined by the number of fans and followers. Any marketer worth their salt will also tell you to measure social media analytics.
Most businesses have depended on inbuilt dashboards like the insights section for Facebook page. It gives you information like the reach, number of likes, and so on, but fails to provide a breakdown of advanced metrics such as demographics and conversion data. With social media becoming more complex than ever before, these metrics are now becoming critical for business owners to fine tune their social media strategy, and to understand how the socially savvy customer is reacting to their content.
Here are three simple ways of tracking social media data –
Social interaction analytics
Social interaction analytics is available for Google Analytics users. Initially launched to track Google+ activity, it can now be integrated into social network buttons and used to track general and advanced social interactions.
To use social interaction analytics, you must first install social network buttons from their respective websites. Social network buttons include the Facebook like button, the Tweet button, the +1 button from Google+, and the Pin It button from Pinterest. Currently, tracking is available only for Facebook and Twitter. Google+ tracking is in built and no separate code needs to be installed for it.
Each button code needs to be appended with a specific tracking code from Analytics. The snippet looks like this:
_gaq.push(['_trackSocial', network, socialAction, opt_target, opt_pagePath]);
Use this link to understand each parameter and how you can customize this code snippet to receive data in your Analytics dashboard.
Advanced social interaction features for Facebook include number of unlikes, which can be very useful in creating an effective social strategy.
Google Analytics Tagged URLs
Tagged URLs are the most effective and probably the easiest way to track social traffic to website links and blog posts. By using a unique URL, you can see advanced reporting statistics in the Google Analytics dashboard.
Google Analytics URL builder to create a tagged URL. If you’re using this to track data from multiple social channels, you will have to create multiple tagged URLs, each specific to one channel.
Tracking with social media management dashboards
Perhaps the easiest way to track analytic data is by using a social media management dashboard. Hoot Suite is a wonderful tool that provides essential social interaction data that helps brands understand the effectiveness and reach of their social media campaigns.
The URL shortening service, bit.ly, also provides reporting features like number of clicks and traffic sources.